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Man Claims Springfield Diocese Hid Abuse

Aug 3, 2004 | AP A man saying he was molested by two priests as a teen has filed a civil suit against the Springfield Diocese claiming that church leaders destroyed personnel files and tried to cover up clergy sex abuse.

The man filed his lawsuit a week ago in Hampden Superior Court, under the pseudonym John Doe. In it, he claims he overheard retired Springfield Bishop Thomas Dupre, then a priest, say at a rectory meeting in 1977 or 1978 that "priest files previously maintained by Bishop Weldon had been destroyed."

Bishop Christopher J. Weldon retired as head of the Roman Catholic diocese in 1977 and died in 1982.

The man says he was abused for two years, starting in 1976, in the Bondsville section of Palmer, by two priests who have since died. He claims the abuse began when he was 15 and continued until he was 17.

The man, now 43, told The Republican in Springfield that he was serving refreshments to the priests gathered at the rectory when he overhead Dupre.

According to John Doe, the Rev. Sylvio Levesque, pastor of St. Anne Parish in Three Rivers, attended the meeting. But Levesque told the newspaper that he couldn't recall any discussion of destroyed files and didn't remember Dupre attending any of the regional meetings in Bondsville.

The diocese declined to comment on the allegations in the lawsuit, but said it had provided a copy of the suit to Hampden County District Attorney William Bennett.

A grand jury is currently considering allegations by two men who say they were abused by Dupre in the 1970s.

Dupre resigned as head of the Springfield Diocese in February.

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